Subverting Expectations

Subverting Expectations

July 26, 2021 0 By Elaine Arias

Last Friday, Netflix added Masters of the Universe: Revelation and pretty much every pop culture YouTuber I subscribe to has been talking about the fallout all weekend.

Sometime last year, Clownfish TV had announced that one of their trusted sources claimed that the main character of the Master of the Universe franchise, He-Man, would be “sidelined.” The show runner of the Netflix reboot, Kevin Smith, repeatedly claimed that that was a lie, and that He-Man wouldn’t be sidelined in his own show.

If you’re a kid of the ’80s, you probably know what He-Man and the Masters of the Universe is. It was an ’80s era fantasy cartoon that was clearly inspired by Conan the Barbarian and had an extensive toy line. The show She-Ra: Princess of Power was a spin-off made for girls (and yes, Netflix and DreamWorks decided to ruin She-Ra a few years ago with their own crappy reboot).

Since Hollywood is completely and utterly bereft of creativity or originality, they’ve decided to reboot something yet again. And, as usual, they had to completely and totally ruin it to please feminists, Twitter blue checks and the hagbeasts at The Mary Sue to name a few.

Now, I’ve heard of He-Man and I even had a She-Ra action figure, but I am by no means an expert on either show, because one, when I was about eight or nine years old, my family and I moved to Japan. In the years before we left, all I remember watching was The Smurfs, Fraggle Rock, Disney animated movies and maybe a little She-Ra. But by the time I reached the target age demographic for either show, I was living in Japan, and ended up being obsessed with anime like Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z.

That being said, from what I understand, He-Man, or Prince Adam (his “civilian” identity) is killed off in the first episode, then gets resurrected in the fifth episode and then DIES later on in that same episode. Several other male characters are emasculated and minimized. The female character Teela, He-Man’s companion/girlfriend, is turned into an angry stronk wahman with a side-shave. One other character, Andra, is race-swapped and now is black. Teela’s character is totally ruined, as she spends a lot of time bitching about how Adam lied to her about being He-Man, all the while Adam’s parents grieve over the death of their only son.

It sounded like a complete and utter train wreck. Then, during the promotion of the show, Kevin Smith attacks Clownfish TV and anyone that has even the slightest criticism of his show, tells them all to “grow the fuck up” and refuses to admit that he basically lied about He-Man being sidelined, all the while bragging about how bad-ass he is for killing of the lead character TWICE in only five freaking episodes.

You can read more about the situation here:

Masters of the Universe: Revelation Media Reviews Confirm Series Sidelines He-Man, Grace Randolph Asserts Series Has No Strong Male Leads Or Support Characters

Following months of denial by showrunner Kevin Smith that He-Man ” does no stepping aside ” in the soon-to-be-released first part of Netflix’s revival of the hero’s iconic animated series, Masters of the Universe: Revelation, media reviews have confirmed that not only does the series sideline He-Man in favor of Teela, but according to critic Grace Randolph, also lacks any strong male leads or support characters.

I’ve complained about the destruction of existing franchises before, so I am going to try to avoid ranting about that again, but I do want to talk about something else: the “subversion of expectations.” I suspect this is one reason why so many franchises get “ruined” in the first place.

I, like a lot of people, was a big fan of Game of Thrones. Two major events in that show serve as masterful examples of how amazing the “subversion of expectations” can really be.

The first one occurs in episode nine of season one – the execution of the protagonist, Lord Eddard Stark. Now, with the way we normally view such stories, we expected Ned Stark to expose Cersei Lannister’s deception and incestuous affair and for Ned to be rewarded or something…but that’s not what happens. Nobody comes to save Ned Stark at the last minute. The antagonists, King Joffrey or his mother, Cersei, don’t screw up to allow the protagonist to emerge unscathed, nor do either of them suddenly have an epiphany and confess. Nope. Ned Stark talks to Lord Varys while awaiting his execution, and then is eventually brought before the crowd in King’s Landing, where, in front of his two daughters Sansa (who was originally promised to King Joffrey but ends up marrying Tyrion Lannister instead, the younger brother of Cersei) and Arya (who was in the crowd, unbeknownst to her father or sister), is beheaded for treason to the crown.

It showed that no, the good guys don’t always win. The path to victory or justice is never straight or broad or easy.

So you think, okay, Ned Stark had three sons (four if you count Jon Snow) and two daughters – one of them will avenge their father, right? And, of course, the one Stark offspring best positioned to avenge their father would be the eldest son, Robb? Well, unfortunately, by episode nine of season three, Robb and his mother, Catelyn, make a huge mistake in breaking the marriage pact they had made with House Frey. So Lord Walder Frey arranges what is now known as the Red Wedding to exact revenge against the Starks (and to curry favor with the Lannisters). Both Robb and Catelyn, along with Robb’s girlfriend (who was pregnant) and several other people are murdered.

A devastating moment for those who were rooting for House Stark, but seriously good television, because once again, we see that not everything works out perfectly, and that there are consequences for the things you do, even if those consequences are hugely unfair (arranged marriages, to us modern folk, sound awful, so we sympathize with Robb for wanting to marry for love and now power or whatever, but this was obviously a serious tactical mistake, one that cost him and his family their lives).

We expected Ned Stark to expose the deception of the Lannisters at the very least, and set things right at most, but that’s not what happened. We then expected his first born son, Robb, to avenge his father. Instead, Robb entered into a marriage pact with another powerful family and then broke it, giving that family an opportunity to unite with his enemy, the Lannisters. These “subversions of expectation” made sense in the context of the greater story, and felt fresh and new. Now Game of Thrones was wholly unpredictable (unless you read the books) and nobody was safe. That’s how subverting people’s expectations can be really, really good.

Before the utter disaster that was the final seasons of the show, Game of Thrones was a pop culture phenomenon, and in some ways, still is. Hell, Amazon wants to take some obscure Lord of the Rings stories and turn them into their very own Game of Thrones. If it weren’t for the success of Game of Thrones I don’t think Netflix would have bothered with The Witcher nor would they have adapted Leigh Bardugo’s Grishaverse novels into Shadow and Bone. It’s no surprise that everyone in Hollywood wants to “subvert” the audience’s “expectations” the way Game of Thrones did.

Not everyone is George R. R. Martin, however. Kevin Smith and the twats that wrote Masters of the Universe: Revelation certainly aren’t. Not even close, yet here they are, crowing about subverting our expectations by sidelining the main character of a kid’s cartoon.

So why did it work for Game of Thrones besides the obvious? Well, it wasn’t a traditional heroic story – there were no real heroes in Westeros. The enormous cast of characters probably helped. Once Ned, Catelyn and Robb Stark were taken out of the equation, we could follow the remaining Starks, and, of course, Daenerys, Mother of Dragons, etc. Westeros is a brutal, medieval world that was originally inspired by medieval England and the War of the Roses.

Why is He-Man killed in the first episode? He is in a fight with Skeletor, the main antagonist, and in order to save Eternia from being destroyed by its own magic, he contains it with the Sword of Power, and the resulting explosion splits the sword in two and kills the both of them.

So that’s off to a strong start, I guess…but we, the audience, don’t find out if they’re truly dead or not until the last episode. After spending a lot of time with the angry, irritating, feminazi version of Teela, she goes to Preternia to bitch at Adam for lying to her, and then convinces him to return so they can reforge the Sword of Power, which they do, and as soon as they get back, Skeletor emerges from Evi-Lyn’s staff to stab Prince Adam in the back.

This sets us up for the second part of this series, which will be another five episodes, I guess. But this is just lazy. Why kill off Adam twice? Why didn’t Skeletor just take both halves of the sword and have both Adam and Teela try to figure out how to get it back from him and eventually reforge it? This is just a shitty excuse to make the main character Teela, who is conveniently female. These morons think that killing off the male protagonist (twice!!!) and making a female the protagonist of a male-oriented show is “subverting expectations” and that they’re at all on the level of George R. R. Martin, the show runners of Game of Thrones (who were exposed as obvious hacks once they ran out of source material to work with) or any other half-decent writer on this planet.

Why does Masters of the Universe need more female representation, especially given the fact that a spin-off for girls actually exists?

I’m so tired of this crap. I get that this is all entirely in service to the feminazi/Marxist agenda, which is to emasculate and belittle all males and demonize masculinity. I just wanted to examine another aspect of this latest propaganda disaster.

Photo by John-Mark Smith from Pexels